New Vent at Pu’u ‘O’o?

New Vent at Pu’u ‘O’o a possibility – lava areas closed – April, 2018: 

A new vent at Pu’u ‘O’o Cone may form in the near future, according to scientists at the Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory. Recent changes in the 61g eruption suggest that magma is accumulating at shallow depths below Pu’u ‘O’o Cone. A new vent could open up anywhere on the cone or along the adjacent East Rift Zone at any time, sending large volumes of fast moving lava in any direction. Because of this the entire area has become extremely hazardous.

On Tuesday, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials announced that all active lava flows are now located within closed areas of the national park and the closed Kahauale’a Natural Area Reserve. Below is an excerpt from the park’s statement. (You can click on the date below to see the full post.)

It’s official: all lava in Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone are currently in closed and very dangerous areas within the park and the Kahauale‘a Natural Area Reserve and are off limits to the public due to volcanic hazards. Stay #LavaSafe and “lava legal” and stay out of closed areas.

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Changes at Pu’u’ ‘O’o (above) could result in the formation of a new vent.- Photo: USGS-HVO

Also on Tuesday, the USGS Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory (HVO) issued a Volcanic Activity Notice outlining potential hazards associated with the recent changes.

Volcanic Activity Summary: Observations and measurements of the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō eruption on Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone during the past month suggest that the magma system beneath Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō has become increasingly pressurized. If this activity continues, a new vent could form at any time, either on the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō cone or along adjacent areas of the East Rift Zone.

Hazard Analysis: A new vent located on the cone of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō would erupt lava flows onto one or more sides of the cone that would initially advance downslope rapidly within a few kilometers (miles) from the vent. Because of the potential for a sudden breakout anywhere on Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, the cone is extremely hazardous. The location of a new vent or potential lava-flow paths cannot be estimated until such time that a new vent forms and stabilizes.

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HVO’s instruments record a sharp inflationary trend at Pu’u’O’o since March 12th. Image: USGS-HVO

HVO’s tiltmeters have recorded ongoing inflation at Pu’u ‘O’o since March 12th, which roughly coincided with decreased vigor in the coastal plain lava flows that so many visitors were able to enjoy. Since then these flows steadily receded back up the Pulama Pali toward the vent. Over the past month Pu’u ‘O’o Crater floor has uplifted several yards in response to increasing pressure.

Similar periods of marked inflation and expansion occurred at Pu’u ‘O’o Cone in May-June 2014, when a new vent formed on the cone’s northeast flank sending lava toward the town of Pahoa, and also on May 2016, as a new vent sent lava seaward (the current 61g flow).

Our lava tours are on hold for the moment but we’re hopeful we’ll be able to resume them soon, as more flows come down from the vent into safe and legal areas, and this could happen any day. We’re still taking reservations for future tours and we’ll keep our guests updated about lava conditions and tour status. In the event there is no safe and legally accessible lava by the day of your tour we’ll refund you in full.

We get our tours to lava or your money back – guaranteed!